New Ways Won’t Open Old Doors

new ways won't open old doors

New ways won’t open old doors.

Did you read that title correctly?

Did I write that title correctly?

Isn’t it that “old ways can’t open new doors”?

But I saw this quote a few times last week and thought it was the universe’s way of letting me know I had to, at the very least, think about it.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought about how my mind wanted to read it as, “new ways won’t open old doors.”

When I wholeheartedly decide to make a change in my life – commit to it full-throttle – I find that I can’t go back.

Sure, I could go back, but something inside me always reroutes my urge.

For example, when I decided to give up alcohol for good, I took it one day at a time and made a pact that I would not allow the overwhelm of saying, “I’m never going to drink again.”

I know, right now, that I don’t want to, and for the first six months, that was enough for me to stick with my commitment.

Now, 4.5 years in, I find that I no longer have the impulse to have a drink when I’m stressed or upset. There’s always this voice in my head saying, “new ways won’t open old doors,” – and I understand that even when I think about approaching an old situation in a new way, it nearly always steers me away from approaching it full stop. The thought of it seems so absurd that it is incredible that for so long, that was my go-to way of coping.

When I’m upset or feeling unravelled, my default now is to honestly sit with the discomfort and work my way through it by breathing, meditating, exercising, writing, talking to a friend, or looking at pictures of otters (I highly recommend this one, by the way!).

I mean, seriously…

As I allow myself the time to feel all the feelings and take new actions to work through my stress and sadness, I can’t even fathom how I thought delaying my feelings was the right way to cope.

New ways can't open old doors. #soberoctober #sobriety #behaviourchange #growthmindset #personaldevelopment Click To Tweet

What I am saying now is nothing more than developing new habits in place of old habits. And I realise now that the quote I’ve been living by is not that old ways won’t open new doors – which is absolutely true – but that my new ways won’t lead me to try and open old doors. I’m not even in the same neighbourhood I used to live in.

My new building’s keys won’t open my old building’s doors; in fact, that thought is so absurd it’s actually kind of funny. Nobody would make a habit out of trying new keys in old locks, would they? Unless you’re into that – in which case – I am not hobby-shaming you. Honest.


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A Dartmouth College study demonstrated how habits could be controlled depending on how active the dorsolateral striatum region of the brain is. The dorsolateral striatum region experiences short bursts of activity during habit production using a mouse’s response to different coloured lights through a maze. The study flashed either a blue light (excited) or a yellow light (inhibited) to guide the rat’s behavioural response and what they found was when responding to the blue light, the rats had more vigour, and once they got to the centre, they would turn towards their reward without hesitation. The yellow light caused the rats to delay their start and, at times, turn back from the centre – with little to no regard for the reward at the end. What the study was able to demonstrate was just how quickly the brain can form a habit and the behaviours associated with it.


Dr Joe Dispenza says:

If you want to create a new personal reality, a new life, then you would have to start thinking about what you’ve been thinking about and changing. You would have to become aware of your unconscious thoughts and observe them. You would have to pay attention to your automatic habits and behaviours and modify them. You would have to look at emotions you live by every single day – connected to your past – and decide whether those emotions belong in your future. Most people try to create a new personal reality with the same personality, and it doesn’t work. You literally have to become someone else. Your brain is organised to reflect everything you know in your life. Your brain is a record of the past. It’s an artefact of all the things you’ve learned and experienced up to this moment. There is a saying in neuroscience that goes, ‘Nerve cells that fire together, wire together.’ If you’re thinking the same thoughts, making the same choices, demonstrating the same behaviours – and reproducing the same experiences that stamp the same networks of neurons into the same patterns – you’re going to hardwire your brain into a very finite signature. Because as you fire and wire the same circuits, in the same way, those circuits begin to become more connected. If you do something over and over again, the repetition of actions conditions your body to do it better than your mind. A habit is when your body knows better than your mind. You’ve done something so many times that the body now knows how to do it better than the brain. 95% of most people’s behaviours, attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, emotional reactions are subconscious programmes.

It will feel super uncomfortable when you stop a habit and reprogramme your reality. The reason you’re uncomfortable has less to do with the absence of the coping mechanism and more with your true self communicating to your true self. It’s sharing that you’re doing the right thing. These moments are when you should keep going.

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So often, we want to throw in the towel or convince ourselves that it’s not so bad, it’s manageable, and it will be different this time. This is exactly when I believe the saying, ‘old ways won’t open new doors, to be true. That is the definition of insanity; trying the same thing and expecting different results.

When you reprogramme your emotions and personal reality, you will discover there is no going back because you are no longer the same person, coping in the same ways or living in the same reality. Those old doors are closed for a reason – and you returned the key because – deep down – your soul knows why.



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